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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311

IX: The Children's Crusade,   pp. 325-342 PDF (7.1 MB)

Page 334

multitude swarmed through the Alps and into Italy, whether by the St. Gotthard
or the Splugen is not known. There they broke up into groups and dispersed
among the various towns of Lombardy where they were despoiled by the natives.
<33> A notice from Salzburg indicates that some reached Treviso; possibly
they hoped to take ship at Venice. <34> But the main body seems to
have gone in the other direction, reaching Piacenza on August 20. Nicholas
was still the leader of what, despite losses, must even yet have been an
impressive pilgrimage, a "great and innumerable multitude of German
children, babes at the breast, women and girls," all hastening down
to the sea to fulfil the prophecy of an angel of God that they would recover
the Holy Sepulcher from the hands of the iniquitous Saracens. <35>
Nearby, at Cremona, bishop Sicard also recorded their passage, in drier tones
perhaps, but with the authentic note that the company had come from Cologne.
 From the valley of the Po, Nicholas and his followers pressed on to the
south and the sea. They were in Genoa by Saturday, August 25, bearing crosses,
with their pilgrim staves and leathern wallets - more than seven thousand,
so it was estimated. They obviously received no encouragement, no offer of
sea transportation to the Holy Land, for the very next day most of them were
gone again, although many of their number dropped out and remained behind.
<37> From Genoa there is no longer any clear trail to follow. The "crusade"
had been breaking up all the way from Germany to Italy; many had died, many
others had returned home discouraged, or stopped at places such as Genoa
and gone no further. A late source reports that two boat-loads sailed from
Pisa, of whom nothing more was heard. <38> There are reports that a
body of the crusaders went to Rome, where Innocent III relieved of their
crusading oaths those who were too young and those weighed down 
 33 Annals Marbacenses (MGH, SS., XVII), p. cf. Annales Colonienses maximi
(MGH, SS., XVII), p. 827: "Alii Alpes transgressi, mox ut Ytaliam intraverunt
a Longobardis spoliati et repulsi, cum ignominia redierunt." 
 34 Annales Sancti Rudberti Salisburgenses, ad ann. 1212 (MGH, SS., IX),
p. 780: "que [multitudo] et iubente papa Innocentio, missis cardinalibus,
apud Tarvisium Ytaliae repel litur." 
 35 Annales Placentini Guelfi, ad ann. 1212 (MGH, 55., XVIII), p. 426: "Die
autem Martis proximo, 13 Kal. Septembris . . .". August 20 was Monday,
not Tuesday. The Chronicae regiae Coloniensis cont. prima also refers to
their reaching Piacenza. 
 36 Sicardi episcopi Cremonensis chronicon (RISS, VII), col. 624. Unfortunately,
Sicard says nothing of the outcome, except "demum quasi evanuit universa".
Instead, he allows the sad facts of the expedition to remind him of a yet
sadder, though less authentic, story of children in Apulia and Sicily, where
the famine was so severe that they were eaten by their mothers. 
 37 Annaks Ogerii Panis (MGH, SS., XVIII), p. 131. A tradition of Genoese
hostility is preserved in Jacobus de Varagine, Chroinca de civitate Januensi
(RISS, IX, i), p. 45. 
 38 Richeri gesta Senoniensis ecclesiae, IV, (MGH, SS., XXV), p. 301. 

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